4th of July

Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
       origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.

from “Remember” by Joy Haro, 1951

True Crime Podcasts

A former newsletter editor and sound designer,
so nothing stopped him from starting a true crime podcast.

He could pick any of the 1,600 cases each year in the U.S.
when women are murdered by men.

He could have picked the case of Hae Min Lee,
a high school student strangled to death

and found half-naked, half-buried in river rock in Leakin Park.
But another podcaster already did that story.

Or the one of 26-year-old and pregnant Amanda Key Jones,
who disappeared after planning to meet the alleged father of her baby.

Her cell phone and purse left in her unlocked car;
his 10 acres never searched for lack of a warrant.

Sixty-four percent of female homicides are committed by 
family members or an intimate partner. 

Another podcast with the word Vanished in its title
already covered her story, in 43 minutes.

So he chose the 10-year-old cold case of Tara Grinstead
because his grandma lived in that town and talked of her case:

the history teacher and former beauty queen,
who never returned home after leaving the neighborhood BBQ.

Who’s to say this podcaster couldn’t retrace detective work,
comb through dusty police records, or detail the actions

of real people and ask them the same old questions?
The small town of Ocilla, Georgia, worked into a frenzy, again.

Canine dogs re-scoured the pecan orchard.
The same rumors sprang up like air bubbles in water.

Someone said her body burned among the sound of husks
releasing their thin-shelled seeds in October.

Who is to argue with well-established facts
crusted with huge speculation when new leads arise?

The real fact is 1 in 3 women worldwide will be physically 
or sexually abused in their lifetimes.

But for this podcaster and his listeners,
surely it’s the intrigue of the story that matters,

and the commercial breaks about investment websites
and soft-stretch yoga pants simply a bonus.  

About the Author: Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of Another Autumn (WordTech Editions, 2014). Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies including The South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, Spoon River Review and POEM. A native of Washington state, she earned a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University. She spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. Now a full-time poet, she splits her time living on Vashon Island and in Spokane, Washington. For more information, visit www.yvonnehigginsleach.com

Lessons

Let yourself in, wait in the living room.
The cat knows the orange couch shows off his tortoiseshell fur.
Photo on the wall: your teacher laughing in a canoe.
When she calls, pick up your instrument.
Grand piano, window, two chairs facing the bookcase.
She on the right, you on the left.
Where to put your fingers,
how to move the bow.
Her voice and the cello sound.
She writes instructions for practice in a clear hand.
You can never be her, but if you could choose
to spend your life inside this room, you would.
Discipline and joy you grasp to pull yourself through.


About the Author: Alison Hicks is the author of poetry collections You Who Took the Boat Out and Kiss, a chapbook Falling Dreams, and a novella Love: A Story of Images. Her work has appeared in Eclipse, Gargoyle, Permafrost, and Poet Lore, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Green Hills Literary Lantern. Awards include the Philadelphia City Paper Poetry Prize and two PA Council of the Arts Fellowships. She is founder of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, which offers community-based writing workshops. www.philawordshop.com

Future Children of America

          Not talking about
nurseries with wailing infants parents glued to the glass sure theirs
          is the most beautiful most intelligent can’t you tell
not pre-schools with kids snatching toys coloring walls peeing their pants
          licking sticky fingers touching everything
not even first graders struggling to read memorizing pages to seem so smart
          so Miss Armstrong likes them best

          Talking about
Sunset Lodge Golden Living Alzheimer’s Acres Almost Heaven Homes
          where we wander the halls not remembering if we ate lunch or dinner
wondering if this smiling woman is our mother, our daughter, our hairdresser
          watching reruns over and over and over, always new again
accuse nurses of stealing our earrings hiding men in our closets
          future children who will never grow up

About the Author: Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

The Sculpture Teacher

With another teenage girl, I took lessons 
from an elderly German refugee. At first, 
we worked with clay, soft and sensuous  
to our fingers.  

Then she handed each of us a square 
of soapstone and a rasp. We filed at our 
stubborn green chunks, giggled, whispered 
who kissed who, who went all the way.  

“Vat is this nonsense, girls?” she asked. 
Her sculptures, stone faces that looked up, 
pleading for help, torsos that strained to free 
themselves from their marble, echoed her  

reproach. We stifled our laughter, took up 
the heavy metal tools, sawed at the blocks.    
I tried to create a statue of a woman, but could 
not find the hidden form within the stone.

About the Author, Dana Robbins: After a long career as a lawyer, I obtained an MFA from the Stonecoast Writers program. My first book, The Left Side of My Life, was published by Moon Pie Press in 2015. My poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals or anthologies, including The Fish Poetry Anthology, Door Is A Jar Magazine, Drunken Boat, Paterson Literary Review, Calyx, The Cape Rock, Edison Literary Review, Mount Hope Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetica Magazine, Moth Magazine, and The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual. My poem “To My Daughter Teaching Science” was featured by Garrison Keillor on the Writers Almanac in November 2015.

in the moment of awakening

the first part is easy

set the fat man on fire just to
hear the young girls laugh, and
of course they do

smell of roses in the back yard,
sound a train passing through the
middle of town and when you
turn to slap your son your
hand is made of feathers and glass

when the plane crashes into
                               the river
all the angels are out of town

the house is empty and the
pool drained

nothing but bones in the garage

painter out behind the barn with
an empty canvas and his 
                      hands cut off

says god is either
everywhere
or nowhere at all

says faith is the smell of roses
or the smiles of sleeping
                               children

everything a reminder of death
and everyone a corpse draped
in beautiful tapestries

each day the one that
will matter most




one wrong choice given flesh
and wings and
all it ever does is
fly too close to the sun

About the Author: john sweet, b 1968, still numbered among the living. A believer in writing as catharsis. Opposed to all organized religion and political parties. His latest collections include APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press) and the limited edition chapbooks HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A BASTARD CHILD IN THE KINGDOM OF NIL (2018 Analog Submission Press). All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.

Bikes

Through the open door
of the closed pizza parlor

glint three delivery bikes 
parked in a line in the dark, 

the immigrant deliverymen 
due soon 

after having worked 
late in the rain 

for tips only 
while fielding complaints 

in a language 
not their own, later

sleeping in an illegally
partitioned fire trap—

three cots 
parked in a line in the dark.

About the Author: Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com